Words by: Stephanie Jacoby | Images by: Ian Rawn
Railroad Earth :: 06.05.08 :: Variety Playhouse :: Atlanta, GA
Just five days before Railroad Earth's fourth album, Amen Corner (review here), was due to hit shelves, the highly-revered bluegrass-rock band introduced a few new songs and brought back some old favorites to one large, sweaty, fanatical crowd at the Variety Playhouse.
Opening the first set with "Been Down This Road" and closing it with "Bringin' My Baby Back Home," most folks would agree that the first set was primarily reserved for showcasing new, catchy tracks from their latest studio effort. The band strategically placed some of their more well known songs like "Elko" and "Dandelion Wine" in the middle of the set, which helped the audience to slowly digest the new music. One of the set's highlights was the bluesy twang of "The Hunting Song," which was elevated by John Skehan's mandolin and Andy Goessling's banjo plucking. But even with such an incredible repertoire in the first set, it didn't hold a candle to a second set that really brought the crowd to its knees.
The sextet opened the second half with a slow, savvy "New Lee Blues" that flowed straight into one of many smile-inducing songs, "Fiddlee." Those in attendance experienced an energizing violin solo early on. With Tim Carbone's fervent bow maneuvering and spastic string fingering, he managed to set the tone for a rowdy night of two-stepping, toe-tapping and do-si-do dancing, which further contributed to the stifling heat inside the building.
As Todd Sheaffer geared up to play "Bird In A House," the only audible noise was the high-pitched screams of the diehard Railroad Earth fans, which was soon muffled by Sheaffer's thick, soulful lyrics, "I want to sing my own song, that's all," accompanied by the sweet, sweet whine of Carbone's violin.
"We love to play in Atlanta. We're here about two to three times per year," Carbone said. "We really enjoy the energy, and we also have deep roots here. Our bassist [Johnny Grubb] was born and raised here, and our sound guy is from Atlanta, too. It's always fun to play here."
|Tim Carbone - RRE :: 06.05 :: Atlanta|
"Peace On Earth," another dance-inspiring tune, featured yet another exciting violin performance and a gorgeous blend of harmonies singing words that instilled a happy, carefree sensation into the hearts of the many boogie children down in front, who sang right along with every word.
After such an up-beat tune, the band slowed the pace with a powerful "Seven Story Mountain." Carey Harmon's on-tempo percussion kept in time with Sheaffer's voice as he belted the psalm-like lyrics: "Oh Lord, to see a light/ But fail in strength to follow/ Sometimes it's hard to let it go."
As the set came to a slow and steady close with "Right In Tune," it became abundantly clear that Railroad Earth fans treat this band as if it were a religion. Its "followers" enjoy, appreciate and find significant meaning in each poignant lyric. From this band, they garner both good feelings and a positive outlook on life while dancing and swaying to each powerful performance.
As the band returned to the stage to close out the night with an energetic "Mighty River," it was clear how Railroad Earth has earned this dedicated following. Even better, they are also truly appreciative of the people that support their music and help create this special connection.
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